Archive for the 'activism' Category

We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement

A family member on bedrest in the hopes of lengthening her pregnancy.  A friend who spent days in the hospital’s NICU with her premature infant, waiting for the day she could bring her baby home.  News of a devastating pregnancy or newborn loss from someone we know and love.

The fact is each and every one of our lives has been touched by premature birth.  Since 1990, the number of preterm babies has climbed more than twenty percent and is the leading cause of death for newborn infants today.  That’s why Rich serves on the local March of Dimes board of directors, and why I am excited to be a part of this “first” March for Babies.

On Saturday, April 26th we’ll be walking alongside 1000 other walkers to raise money for this important cause.  The March of Dimes has changed the name of their annual fundraising walk from Walk America to March for Babies to remind us exactly who we are walking for – all babies.  We’ve started a team – with Rich’s company (FE&C) as the team name.

DONATE NOW:      

Kristina’s page: http://www.marchforbabies.org/kristinafrench

Rich’s page: http://www.marchforbabies.org/personal_page.asp?w=181005753&u=RichardFrench

In addition, I’d love to hear your personal stories of how prematurity has affected your life.  Post one or send it to me, and I’ll post it here.  Thank you for making a difference in every baby’s life.

Richard and Kristina French

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A pox on my house!

Some of my readers may not know that there has been a growing movement away from childhood vaccines, or approaching immunizations on an alternative schedule.  There are several reasons for this.  The main idea is that there are questions about a possible link between immunizations and autism because of the thorazine (a product containing mercury) or aluminum component in some vaccines.

When I first became a parent, I didn’t know anything about choices in vaccines, so I just had my kids vaccinated for everything.  (I would be doing the alternative vaccination schedule recommended in this book if I were having my babies now to spread out exposure to/cut down on the metallic compounds, however.)

With a couple of exceptions.  We don’t do flu shots, and we haven’t vaccinated against the chicken pox.

As it turns out, the chicken pox thing is a problem now that we are enrolling Connor in Kindergarten.  The State of Washington has joined most of the other states requiring the varicella zoster (chicken pox) vaccine (among several other vaccines) for entry into the school system.  Even if we did choose to give this vaccine, I cannot tell you how angry this made me to find this out.

Parents who choose not to vaccinate, or pick and choose vaccinations, or follow an alternative schedule are not doing this because they are evil and want their child to get sick.  They are doing it because they have carefully weighed the pros and cons of vaccination risks along side of disease risks and the disease risks actually looked less risky.

Here in the modern world, we are used to needles and vaccines.  But stop and really think about it.  Which seems more normal – getting a mostly-harmless disease, or injecting some laboratory version of the disease, mixed with a bunch of strange compounds, into your blood directly?

For instance, here are the reasons we haven’t vaccinated for chicken pox (the varicella vaccine does not contain mercury, thermasol or aluminum):

1.  It is a new vaccine.  As it was only created in the 1990’s, we won’t know the effectiveness of the immunization through the adult years and old age for many decades to come.  Chicken pox is much more dangerous as an adult.  When the vaccine began it was a one-injection thing.  Now Washington State is requiring four varicella injections spread out over childhood.  Who is to say that will be enough?  Will they have to add boosters through the adult years?  And will my child be responsible enough to continue those boosters when I am not there to “enforce” them?

2.   It’s the Chicken Pox.  We’ve all had them – back in our day, it was a rite of childhood passage, wasn’t it?  Now, I’m not going to tell you that chicken pox is risk-free, but it is pretty benign.  Before the vaccine, each year there were 100 deaths related to varicella.  What that statistic is not telling you, though: how many of these deaths occurred in the adult years?  Or with immuno-compromized persons?  Or generally unhealthy people who eat poorly and don’t take care of themselves?  Or infants born to mothers who were experiencing a chicken pox outbreak at the time of birth?  I’ve also heard that there might be a link between these deaths and people taking inhaled corticosteriods for athsma.  Then, think about it this way:  100 deaths a year is nothing when you compare it to the 36,000 Americans that die every year from complications of the flu.

3.   I can build a stronger immunization if I “vaccinate” naturally.  10-20% of people vaccinated end up getting chicken pox anyway (albeit a milder version).  We’re discussing exposing our kids on purpose to chicken pox, probably this summer before school.  I’m not sure we’ll have a full-blown “chicken pox party” (I can’t seem to warm Rich up to the idea) but we might have a playdate with a kid with a confirmed case of varicella.  We’ve discussed it with the kids, so it’s not like we would be being sneaky.  It will be more work for us, but I believe better for the kids in the long run.  I’d love to let nature take it’s course, but with most kids immune we may have to seek it out.  (My parents exposed me and my brother on purpose and I have no problem with that.)

4.  I have doubts about the motives for requiring vaccination.  The World Health Organization mentions “cost-effectiveness” just a few too many times for my comfort level when discussing why to vaccinate against varicella.  Is that what it really is about – saving money?  What about my child’s long-term health?  Oh, I get it – it’s a profit thing!

5.  Our family doc recommended not vaccinating against the chicken pox.   He even mentioned that he exposed his kids on purpose.  (Have I mentioned here how much I like our doctor?  Well I do!)

Caucus (n) caw-cuss: (1) something that you use to fix the bathtub. (2) proof that our country is not as democratic as we pretend to be.

I realize this is a little late as the primary caucus in Washington state was a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been thinking a lot of my caucus experience.

Like many of my fellow Americans, I caucused this year. No, that’s not a home remodeling job or even something left better for x-rated blogs. I went to my precinct and stood up with my neighbors and declared my vote, publically, for the person I think would best represent the democratic party this November in the general election. (Go Bo.)

There were a lot of cool things about caucusing. I got to meet people in my neighborhood who are liberals. (Where are you hiding, people?!) And it was certainly inspiring watching our middle school gymnasium fill up way beyond capacity – to three times the people they planned on. I loved standing up and actually giving a little speech about why I think Obama is da man. And I loved hearing speeches from people who also supported him, or supported Clinton. I even spotted a few known republican faces that crossed lines to support their candidate this year.

But that is all beside the point.

Where I live, we have a mail-in ballot system for all voting processes. It is very convenient (though certainly not as patriotic feeling) to be able to make your choices from the living room, or on the toilet.

But recently Washington State’s voting system when it comes to the presidential primary was declared unconstitutional. It is all very complicated and I certainly don’t understand it in the least, but apparently the parties themselves, constitutionally, get to declare their own candidate. So the parties don’t have to listen to what the voters have to say. And if you are a democrat (one time when I think the republicans have it right), your paper ballot vote means absolutely nothing. It is not counted at all towards who will be the presidential nominee. If you didn’t show up for your caucus, you are out of luck.

The unwell – people in hospitals, or who are homebound won’t get their vote heard this year. Also at my convention there was a lot of pats on the back for my husband and I being young people involved and wondering why there weren’t more of us at the caucus. Well let me tell you why. Caucusing is not exactly a friendly place for preschoolers. We only got to go to ours because my mother-in-law agreed not to go to her own (republican) caucus. When families have to pick which member votes, this is not a democracy.

How about all the people who had to work on caucus day? The underprivileged are among people who might feel they cannot chance asking for a day off to get their vote heard.

And what about American foreign nationals? I hear there was even a caucus in Argentina – but how far did they have to travel to get to it? Apparently our citizens living in other countries are not American enough to get to decide who is president without serious inconvenience.

Then, what about those “superdelegates“? Those privileged people who get a seat and a vote at the convention automatically, no matter what candidate they support? Just because they hold an important position in the tapestry of our political world. And with a race this close, they will most likely decide the nomination. Talk about the power of one.

I’m calling the democratic party out on this aristocratic bullshit. Yep, I just used “democratic party” and “aristocratic” in the same sentence, and I meant it.
There was a reason we went with a mail-in ballot system. I’d like to see the Democratic party acknowledging it.

In the news: breasts and other boobs

Read the Artful Flower’s inspired essay on breastfeeding and censorship here.

And watch the powerful Frontline on how Dick Cheney purposefully became Vice President just to “restore executive power” – or “create a tyranny” – however you may wish to interpret it.  The details of events are spelled out – I highly recommend a viewing online.

How I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

Last year I wrote one of my favorite posts about all that you can do to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (yes, I’ve actually linked to my old blog).  Here are the things I’ll be doing this week to be supportive of breastfeeding, although I am no longer a lactating person myself.  I’ve done all the normal stuff, so this year I had to put a little more thought into it.

– Smiling at all breastfeeding moms who nurse in public.  Nursing moms get many more sideways glances and scowls – trust me, I’ve been there.  Is there anything so beautiful as a woman feeding her child the world’s perfect infant food?  Is there nothing so powerful as a woman unafraid to risk social stigma do do what’s best for her own child?  Let’s let them know just how amazing they are.

– Throwing away all toy bottles in my home.  This may seem extreme to some.  It’s not that I’m trying to say that bottles are evil.  I just want my children growing up with the image in their minds that breastfeeding is the preferred way to feed a baby.  Already our media portrays the bottle as the normal way to feed babies – I’m working to at least counter that within my on home.  When we play dolls at our house, kids’ shirts come up and babies are placed upon child chests.  It’s quite endearing, actually.

– Attending my first Le Leche League meeting.   Did you know that any woman is welcome to attend a LLL meeting (although some groups do not allow men as it makes some women uncomfortable)?  My own town’s LLL no longer has regular meetings so I’ll be attending an hour and a half away.  I’m kicking around the idea of becoming a Le Leche League Leader…stay tuned…

Tell congress to require clean sources of energy

We have the best opportunity we’ve ever had to get this country off of polluting energy like oil and coal and onto real clean alternatives like solar and wind. This week, Congress is voting on H.R. 969, a bill that will require electric suppliers to increase their fuel mix of clean energy to 20% (from a nationwide average of 2% today). If it passes, it’ll be like taking 37 million cars off the road.This will not only help curb the climate crisis, but save consumers money and create new jobs.

I signed a petition urging Congress to vote for to give solar and wind the support they need to assure a clean energy future. Can you join me?

Picture of a wind turbine being erected at the Nine Canyon Wind Project, on the hill overlooking my home.  The 63 wind turbines at Nine Canyon is one of the largest sources of public wind energy in the country.  Regardless of its proximity and importance to the local economy, the city of Richland, where I live, has elected to put 0.00% wind energy (and 0.00% solar energy) in its fuel mix.  I’ve written letters and gotten ahold of the local media with zero results – I’m afraid it is going to take federal law to get them to act.

Congratulations to new domestic partners

Congratulate Lisa Brodoff and Lynn Grotsky, whose relationship, after 26 years of being a committed couple are now officially recognized, accepted and validated by the State of Washington.

But they are not alone – yesterday was nothing short of beautiful.  More than 150 couples lined up yesterday in Olympia to register legally as domestic partners, giving same-sex couples and unmarried senior citizens a few basic rights: hospital visitation, inheritance and the right to make funeral arrangements.

There is still a very long row to hoe, but at least the ground has now been broken.  Yea, Washington State!


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